A picture of two teen girls waving Confederate flags has heated up Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The students took the picture during a school field trip to Gettysburg in April. One of them posted it on Instagram and included the caption, "South will rise."
One of the comments on the Instagram page read, "Already bought my first slave."
Ron Creatore, the dad of one of the girls who posed in the pic and posted it on Instagram, told WNCN (video below), "If, knowing what she knows today, would she post that photo today? Absolutely not."
He claimed that his daughter did not post the picture with the intention of being perceived as racist.
Michelle Laws, executive director of the North Carolina NAACP, stated during a press conference on Wednesday how she was "deeply troubled" by the picture and called it "one of many patterns that we are seeing across the state."
Creatore defended his offspring at the press conference, but told WNCN that "they" wanted to use the picture and his daughter to promote an "agenda."
The NAACP wants Creatore's daughter punished by the school, which he opposes: "I won't stand for my daughter being suspended because, like I said, I don't believe that she did anything wrong."
Creatore added that his daughter took down the picture, deleted her social media accounts and apologized.
According to WRAL, the teen's apology included profanity and a defense of Confederate soldiers:
I'm sorry that my picture offended people and especially since my initial caption (that I changed once I realized people took it seriously), but I'm currently on the Civil War trip learning about the history of our country and this just so happens to be a pretty (expletive) important part of it. We were reenacting Pickett's charge in which the South lost 85% of their soldiers. These aren't the Confederate flags in fact, they're the North Carolina regimental flags. I'm proud to be a part of my state and I'm sorry my photo was so offensive but I find it appropriate in that I'm honoring heroes that fought to protect their home and families. Thanks though.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools superintendent Thomas A. Forcella said in a statement:
First, it is unlawful for us to publicly discuss these matters. It is never permissible for us to share confidential information about our students. Second, while some would say we are hiding behind the First Amendment, I would say we are standing on the First Amendment. Students are guaranteed the same rights as all citizens.
Forcella also urged people to discuss the implicit bias that everyone has, and to discuss it in classrooms and during "teachable moments" outside of class.